Six weeks ago, the main cutting patch looked like this.

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I say main cutting patch as the number of flower plants has exceeded the capacity of two 10×4 beds.  The dahlias are co-located with the peonies and some are in the polytunnel and others in pots in the greenhouse.  Some zinnias are in the bulb bed and cosmos are in the herb bed.

The collective finger crossing and holding of breath worked really well for the crysanth macrophyllum and bells of Ireland.  The cerinthe still seems to be considering her options and one of the ammi has definitely given up.  The ridolfia that looked so green and fresh 6 weeks ago are now dead sticks, lying on the brick path below.  The elegant spires of a veronica occupies some of the space and the rest will be occupied by scabious and valerian.

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It’s this patchy dying out that I’m at a loss to explain.  As you can see, the rest of the bed is growing well.

Here’s the Ammi that’s given up, but the next plant is flourishing.  I’ve planted some young sunflowers direct into the straw manure mulch and they appear to be thriving – top left of picture (shhh, it’s only week two for them!)

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In the other bed, after a shaky start the alchemillia is flowering, the astrantia has settled in but the rubeckia is only just hanging on. At the other end of the same bed, after giving up on the direct sowings of nigella and buplereum, they are now germinating which is just as well as the modules of orlaya are dying off – for no apparent reason.

The random dying-off is frustrating because well, it’s so random.  Generally, I do something or more likely don’t do something that contributes to young plants succumbing but these have all been equally watered and fed.  It’s a mystery that I’d really like to solve or at least not have happen next year.

Enough with the moaning though.  There have been many more successes as the header photo shows.  The roses are still prolific, particularly Chandos Beauty, the sunflower hedge is a thing of beauty and the sweet peas are perfumed show-stoppers.  The zinnias are a mass of funky colours.  The dahlia experiment – the Karmas outside with the peonies and the white/pastels inside the sultry polytunnel is going well, in that all plants are still alive!  The polytunnel dahlias are enjoying the conditions of their ancestral homeland and have put on a huge growth spurt, whereas the outdoor dahlias are coping and blooming but frankly look depressed.

Flower growing on this scale and for cutting is new to me.  I’m still learning and perfecting the pinching out malarkey.  It does give bushier and sturdier plants but the where and when for each type still needs to be looked up – but at least there’s google!

Overall, I’m pleased with progress.  There’s a new deadline that would be helped by some more collective finger crossing.  A friend is getting married on 25th August and has asked me to supply the table flowers.  Here’s hoping I can keep the sweet peas going until then.

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